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Monday, 23 March 1987
Page: 1356

(Question No. 5015)

Mr Hodges asked the Minister for Housing and Construction, upon notice, on 18 February 1987:

(1) What wordprocessing or computer equipment has been introduced into the Minister's Department and statutory authorities responsible to the Minister since 1982.

(2) Why was the equipment purchased and were any specific targets set in terms of time or cost savings and improved efficiencies.

(3) What has been the cost of purchasing the equipment.

(4) Has the introduction of the equipment necessitated the purchase of new office equipment; if so, what have been the costs of the additional purchases.

(5) Has the introduction of the equipment let to changes in work practices; if so, what has been the nature of the changes.

(6) What has been the incidence of repetition strain injury (RSI) in the Minister's Department since 1982.

(7) How many lost working days have been caused by RSI related illnesses since 1982.

(8) How many persons have been forced to retire from the Minister's Department or statutory authorities responsible to the Minister as a result of RSI and what have been the compensation costs of this early retirement.

(9) Has the introduction of the equipment (a) saved money and (b) improved efficiency in the Minister's Department or the statutory authorities responsible to the Minister.

Mr West —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Since the beginning of Financial Year 1982-83 to date the following word processing and computing equipment has been introduced into the Department and Statutory Authorities within my portfolio responsibilities:

mainframe computers

mini computers

micro computers

communications controllers

shared wordprocessors

stand-alone wordprocessors

peripherals for the above equipment.

(2) The equipment was purchased to facilitate the more effective execution of the operations of the Department and the Statutory Authorities. Prior to purchase of equipment, assessments were made of the potential for time or cost savings and improved efficiencies.

(3) Cost of purchasing equipment 1982-83 to date was $M17.5 (approx)

(4) Yes-ergonomic furniture at cost of some $900,000.

(5) The introduction of equipment has led to a reduction in the level of routine and repetitive clerical work, an increase in the use of keyboards and screen-based equipment by staff, and the development of policies on work with screen-based equipment and on prevention of RSI, including:

improved postural and ergonomic training for staff

provision of ergonomic furniture across the Department as resources allow

development of rehabilitation programs for staff returning to work after conditions such as RSI.

(6) From 1982 to end February 1987 the Department has had 266 cases of RSI (representing some 1.5% of personnel employed during this period). At end February 1987, 85 of these cases were still current.

(7) Approximately 19,900 working days.

(8) 13 persons have been retired on invalidity grounds due to RSI. The compensation costs amounted to some $200,000.

(9) (a) Yes. (b) Yes